Photo - Asian Tour
HIRATSUKA ROMPS TO 10-STROKE WIN AT AIR BAGAN MYANMAR OPEN
Yangon, Myanmar: Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka claimed his maiden Asian Tour title with an emphatic 10-stroke victory at the Air Bagan Myanmar Open presented by IBTC on Sunday.
After two third place finishes this season, Hiratsuka posted a brilliant final round six-under-par 66 for a winning total of 24-under-par 264, which tied the fourth biggest margin of victory on the Asian Tour.
Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand failed to challenge the overnight leader as he closed with a 73 for a 274 total to take second place in the US$300,000 event, which was making a return on the Asian Tour Schedule after a four-year hiatus.
Andrew Dodt of Australia widened his lead on the Order of Merit after sharing third place third place with Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant on 275 at the Pun Hlaing Golf Club.
Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing battled to a 68 to post his first top-10 finish of the season with a four-day total of 276.
Hiratsuka, 38, ran away from the field with a blistering start of five opening birdies, taking only 10 putts on the outward nine. The Japanese, who has won five times on the Japan Tour, was delighted to win his first Asian Tour title.
“Honestly, I did not expect to win before coming to this tournament. But after four good rounds, I surprised even myself to win by this big margin,” said Hiratsuka, who took home the winner’s cheque of US$47,550.
Hiratsuka revealed that he was confident of lifting the title on the back nine. “Even after my early birdies, I told myself to keep calm. It was only on the last five holes that I knew I would win.
“I have come close on a few occasions and after winning here, I’m definitely going to be playing more on the Asian Tour and try to win more tournaments. It’s a really good Tour to play in,” he added.
Prayad, three strokes off the lead coming into the final round, was disappointed with his erratic tee shots. The six-time Asian Tour winner admitted he was playing for second place after Hiratsuka birdied the first five holes.
“My tee shots were very disappointing but I have some positives to take back from this week. After four holes, I told myself that I should try my best to aim for second place. Hiratsuka had an excellent putting day and it was difficult for me to close the gap.
“I’m almost back to my best form and I’m aiming for more good finishes this season,” said Prayad, who carded one birdie against two bogeys.
Dodt signed off with a 68 to share third place, thanks to an outward 31 which pushed him up the leaderboard. He was disappointed though to come in with two bogeys against another birdie.
“I struggled a bit on the back nine but managed to hang in there. Overall my putting has been the key aspect in my game this week and the course is to my liking,” said Dodt.
Lam turned in 31 but lamented his missed chances on the back nine where he closed with two bogeys and one birdie in the last three holes.
“You always wished you finished better but I’m still happy with my game this week. I got off to a flying start on the front nine but same like yesterday, I couldn’t capitalize on the back nine. But overall I’m happy with the way I finished,” said Lam, who has won once on the Asian Tour.
Leading final round scores
264 - Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN) 64-65-69-66
274 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 66-68-67-73
275 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-65-70-69, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 68-67-72-68
276 - Lam Chih Bing (SIN) 69-69-70-68
277 - Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA) 67-71-72-67, Hideto Tanihara (JPN) 68-66-70-73
Gavin Flint (AUS) 66-70-72-69
279 - David Johnson (USA) 70-71-70-68, Pijit Petchkasem (THA) 68-69-73-69, Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 70-70-69-70
280 - Ben Leong (MAS) 69-67-75-69, Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 71-69-72-68
Mars Pucay (PHI) 69-71-71-69, Lucas Lee (BRA) 73-66-71-70, Himmat Rai (IND) 70-71-69-70, Scott Hend (AUS) 67-71-69-73, Kenichi Kuboya (JPN) 69-68-70-73
Anirban Lahiri (IND) 70-68-70-72, Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 70-70-68-72